In what has been one of many excessive force cases in the last couple of months, an officer in San Francisco was cleared of the three felony charges in what is believed to be the first excessive force trial for an off-duty officer in the history of the city, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Officer Terrance Stangel was found not guilty by a jury on one count each of battery with serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury. The fourth count, assault under color of authority, did not reach a verdict from the jury, according to District Attorney Chesa Boudin.
Stangel was on trial for the 2019 beating of a Dacari Spiers, a Black man, with a baton at Pier 39 in San Francisco, California. Spiers ended up with multiple injuries as a result.
From the Los Angeles Times on what occurred during the 2019 incident:
On the evening of Oct. 6, 2019, Stangel and another officer, Cuauhtemoc Martinez, responded to a 911 call alleging that a man was assaulting a woman, prosecutors said.
At the scene, they were directed to Dacari Spiers, who was on a date with his girlfriend at Fisherman’s Wharf, prosecutors said.
“It is undisputed that officers did not observe any physical violence or unlawful conduct by either of them,” Boudin’s office said.
The officers’ body cameras recorded much of the incident and showed Martinez ordering Spiers to “get over here” and to “face the wall,” according to the statement.
Martinez tried to grab Spiers, who said he hadn’t done anything, prosecutors said. The officers also ignored the man’s girlfriend who was yelling “no” and “what did he do?”
Stangel hit Spiers seven or eight times with a metal baton, including five times while the man was on the ground in the fetal position, according to the statement.
“Officer Stangel broke Mr. Spiers’s wrist and leg, requiring surgery to repair,” prosecutors said. “Mr. Spiers also suffered numerous lacerations to his legs that required stitches. Following the attack, he was forced to use a wheelchair during his recovery.”
Spiers “was not observed committing any illegal act” and was not arrested, the district attorney’s office said in a December 2020 statement announcing the charges against Stangel.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the city and county of San Francisco agreed to pay Spiers $700,000 to settle a lawsuit in February. Additionally, on March 1, the city and county were ordered by a federal judge to pay Spiers’ legal fees which amounted to $2,300, after it was discovered that the San Francisco Police Department withheld evidence in the federal lawsuit.
The federal case was settled in August of 2021.
U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley wrote in her order, according to the Los Angeles Times, “that the settlement is intact and does not change that an abuse of the judicial process occurred.”